At a time when the condo market is expected to soften, Devron Developments is going all in and building a 39-storey tower along a busy section of Spadina Avenue in Toronto that will tout geothermal heating and cooling, elegant architecture and a 10,000-square-foot public park at the doorstep.
Construction crews have just finished demolition work at the site. A drill rig will be brought in early next year to begin geothermal drilling for pipes to be installed deep underground that will transfer energy for heating and cooling approximately 300 units in the 305,000-square-foot building.
“Demolition is all but complete,” says Pouyan Safapour, president at Devron. “The existing building was taken down and we are currently backfilling the site to get it ready for the geothermal drilling. We are nearing completion on that and there’s a little bit of cleanup remaining.
“It was more of an excavator and grabber process and was done slowly and carefully. It’s a very, very busy area with lots of car and pedestrian traffic so we did it slowly and carefully taking it apart.”
A two-storey building with a combination of retail and office space was torn down. United Wrecking did the demolition work and had five workers onsite daily. Michael Brothers did the backfilling.
In January or February, crews will begin installing pipes for the geothermal system. They will tap into the consistent temperatures underground. The sustainable energy source will help reduce carbon emissions.
“Essentially, it’s a whole bunch of very deep holes,” says Safapour. “They need to have those holes so that when we get to shoring and excavating it does not interrupt the construction process. When you have those pipes in the ground, they then get connected to heat pumps and essentially use the fact that the temperature of the soil at great depth does not fluctuate like the temperature outside.”
“Some people refer to it as a battery as it allows a heat exchange to provide heating and cooling for the building.”
The site, at the southeast corner of Spadina and Adelaide, is busy and space is tight. A city-owned parking lot is also amalgamated into the plan. As part of the project, four levels of underground parking will be built. Two upper levels will be for public parking, two lower levels will be for condo owners.
Devron hopes to start shoring up the site in spring, with construction on the underground parking starting after that.
The timeline of the build depends on when the company can get clearances for various aspects of the project, but Safapour says the plan is to have the venture completed in 2029.
Previously, the company has built condos like The Vanguard at 7089 Yonge St. and The Winslow at 2781 Yonge.
While the new condo market is slow just now, Safapour believes there’s room for upside as a survey done this past summer found many Torontonians who have been pushed further away from the city would rather own a condo in the city that is built to the quality and size to be called a home.
The survey found 90 per cent of respondents believe that the city needs better-built condos, and 83 per cent agree the city is starved for good architecture.
The Devron project, designed in partnership with Audax Architects, aims to change the narrative by building spacious suites with heightened sound insulation and a brick and stone façade that will pay homage to the rich architectural heritage of nearby century-old buildings along Spadina Avenue.
“It’s not a building that’s trying to be trendy at a specific time,” explains Safapour. “It’s not belonging to a specific trend or era of time. It’s being built to look like it’s always been there, but it belongs and fits comfortably.
“A lot of architecture and existing buildings on that street are quite timeless and our goal is to live in harmony with that and not try to stand out and show off and just kind of be seamless and timeless.”
To that end, the developer is focused on building an envelope that is esthetically pleasing and will require little maintenance.
“A window wall system does not have as much longevity and thermal performance as a solid brick and punched window façade,” says Safapour. “It also comes down to the quality of the windows. We spent a lot of time with our trades, working and creating very high-performance windows and the way they’re designed. It’s not just the number of panes in the glass, it’s the treatment of the glass. All of those components are what really creates a durable and high thermal performance envelope.”
The company is eager to deliver the homes and architecture that is deserving of Toronto along with the public park, says Safapour.
“We know that proximity to greenery and third spaces are of high importance to people and families. That’s why our goal is to create spacious and livable homes, and the addition of this park will only enhance our vision of redefining what downtown living looks like.”